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My Reading Life

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,462 ratings  ·  784 reviews
Bestselling author Pat Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life.

Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is a voracious reader. Starting as a childhood passion that bloomed into a life-long companion, reading has been Conroy’s portal to the world, both to the farthest corners of the globe and to
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 2010)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyMatilda by Roald DahlThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Books about Books
139th out of 635 books — 988 voters
The Paris Wife by Paula McLainThe Graveyard Book by Neil GaimanRoom by Emma DonoghueMy Reading Life by Pat ConroyAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
Fall into Reading 2010
4th out of 37 books — 18 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mr. Conroy loves words. He loves their flow, their tumble and play. And he isn't afraid to use them. I learned this when I first start reading his fiction with its exultant, flowery phrases, with its parallels to his own life. This nonfiction book tells me why he writes as he does.

Although titled My Reading Life, this book is also about his writing life and his life in general. The fifteen chapters each address a different person or book or time that ultimately shaped who he is and how he writes
This book is the type of book that I love and hate simultaneously. I literally found myself hanging on every word (and they are such magical, illustrious ones)as I slowly turned the pages, fearing that I might miss yet another pithy, entertaining statement from Mr. Conroy. OK, so the only hate aspect of my relationship to this book is the arduous task of noting all I wanted to remember with post-it flags and highlighter marks, not to mention looking up a few words whose meaning I obsessively had ...more
In all of my reading life, I have never read a Pat Conroy book. I couldn't tell you why - probably because I saw "Prince of Tides" and thought "yuck" which may (or may not) have been a complete misjudgment on my part. So when a friend gave me "My Reading Life" as an especially thoughtful Christmas gift, I did not know whether I would love his writing or hate his writing. Turns out a little of both.

Conroy himself admits his prose can be viewed as overwrought, and I cannot agree more. Here is a sa
Pat Conroy pays homage to his mother, teachers, booksellers, and writers that shaped him into being a very popular Southern author. He loves the beauty of language, and reads a poem every day to jumpstart his creative juices before he begins writing. Conroy writes, "I grew up a word-haunted boy. I felt words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue. My mother filled my bedtime hour with poetry that rang like Sanctus bells as ...more
I had a two year period where I loved reading Conroy's emotional male novels, then I overdosed and haven't enjoyed him since. But, even if you're tired, now tire, of his writing or have always found him overwrought and overdone, there's no denying that he's led an amazing life and is a great lover of books. His enthusiasm for books, reading, and their relevance to living is infectious, the people he talks about are wonderful, and there are some great book recos and stories. Great book to dip in ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have a confession to make: I have never seen the movie The Prince of Tides. I have also not read a single book by Pat Conroy, a southern author who is prevalent in every book store I walk into in my three-state radius.

That is going to change now. After reading his love letter to books, and to the people who led him to those books, I want to see how his reading has been the breeding ground for the books he has produced.

Unfortunately, the book does not have an index of books he discusses, and I'
If you enjoy the books of Pat Conroy, you will enjoy this book. If you don't, you won't.

My first introduction to Pat Conroy was through the movie "Conrack," starring Jon Voight. I had never heard of Conroy, much less read him. However, the movie sent me in search of him. When I found the paperback movie tie-in, I was hooked.

From that time forward, I have read Conroy's books. I have met him, spoken with him, and seen him several times on the book circuit. His voice is a familiar sound to me, and
This is classic Pat for Conroy fans. As usual, he reveals a lot about himself and his family. When I told one of my friends that I was going to meet Pat Conroy and have him sign my book she asked if it was a list of books he has read. He names very few books in this book. Instead each of the 15 chapters is devoted to a person in his life, beginning with his mother, who encouraged him to read or to write.

I agree with him on many things: his love of story (he says, rightly so, that many authors t
Have just read a few chapters, but the work is as expected. . . wonderful.
If you're a writer who takes his calling seriously, this is a book for you.


In the beginning, all writer's work is derivative.As we mature in this most wonderful art of creating a fictional world as interesting and informative as the one we see around us,we develop our own style.This (hopefully) new and exciting way of viewing the world comes from a variety of sources.One is , of course, our own experiences.
Michael Jenkins
Pat Conroy is my favorite author, he is an amazing storyteller. The first book I read by him was "South of Broad.", I remember being mesmerized with the language and how he wrote his characters with so much depth and substance. Since then, I have read his other novels and he never failed to captivate me with his writing. All of his characters are so rich and lively and his writing style is beyond description, he makes you feel sympathetic with the characters he promises to have a lasting effect ...more
This book has had me thinking for days. It got inside my head and under my skin in ways I didn't expect.

First off, there's the dedication "This book is dedicated to my lost daughter, Susannah Ansley Conroy. Know this, I love you with my heart and always will. Your return to my life would be one of the happiest moments I could imagine." I have not been able to stop thinking about these lines, wondering what Pat Conroy did to cause his daughter to stop talking about him. What would it take for my
Curse you, Pat Conroy! Another night and most of a day immersed in one of his offerings, My Reading Life; so often have I been consumed by his words and mesmerized by how he retroactively tickled hidden ivories of my own life. And he is wrong when he asserts he never taught after his experience on Daufuskie; perhaps he did not stand before a gaggle of students, but his books entertained and instructed me from the start, a gripping sojourn begun with The Lords of Discipline, a gift from my mother ...more
Kelly Hager
I’m a big fan of books about books and reading, and this book is one of the reasons. Each chapter is about a different book, author or inspiration for Conroy in his life or in his work.

Those include Gone With the Wind (LOVE!), James Dickey (who was actually Conroy’s teacher), his English teacher (who introduced him to Joan Baez and The Catcher in the Rye) and his mother, a bibliophile to rival all bibliophiles.

Ultimately, you probably already know whether you want to read this. If you don’t lik
This is the Pat Conroy I loved. I have loved his books until reading "South of Broad" which I found to be a "big hot mess" - not up to my high expectations of a beloved author. But, Pat Conroy is at his best here in describing the books and people that have influenced his writing life. I loved it.

I particularly loved the chapter in which he writes a tribute to his mother and how she directed him in his love of books, the chapter about the relationship with a teacher who saved him - Gene Norris,
I really, really, really liked this book!

While looking for something else on the Biography shelves at the library, I totally chanced upon this title and I thank my lucky stars that I did! I spent the better part of a complete day with this wildly enthusiastic lover of words and books and consequently, have added to my 'must read' list.

First, I want to read some of Conroy's other books--especially The Water is Wide, The Losing Season (memoirs), The Great Santini, and The Prince of Tides (fictio
I thought this would be an interesting little read and I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to secure a bound manuscript copy from the publisher.
Using a variety of books he has read, over his lifetime, Conroy lets us explore his life with him. We meet his very abusive father whom he learns to love; his mother, who feels second class because of her lack of education and therefore reads everything she can get her hands on, including his reading lists, who yearns for an education and imparts
I have always enjoyed the books that Pat Conroy has written. While his characters and his prose can often be sardonic, I love the way he moves you with all the frailties and humanness of his subjects.

Mr. Conroy tells in this book, of his undying love for readng. He firmy holds to the belief that one needs to read to be educated and to be constantly in love with the world around you. His two particular favorites War and Peace and Gone With the Wind receive special treatments in the annals of all
I love books. I love the feel of them in my hands, the smell of the ink printed pages, and I love devouring all of those words on the pages. I also love to read books about books. I just finished My Reading Life by Pat Conroy, about ten minutes ago and I want to start at the first page of it again. I have to admit that I have never read one of Conroy's novels and now I know that I must. His language and writing make me want to read and read as much as I can take in and never stop. I love hearing ...more
M.M. Mayle
Pat Conroy's MY READING LIFE is an invitation to go backstage, look under the hood, examine the blueprint, and witness the discovery and development of a truly great writer. But there are no special effects to demystify, no magic tricks to unravel, and no shortcuts to discover. A gift may be given, but greatness has to be earned.

Mr. Conroy's revered mother deserves much of the credit for opening his young mind to the sound of superior story telling. She has been a recurring presence in his writi
Sydney Young
I love to read authors' autobiographical books, especially when they details the books that were influential in their lives. I can already tell that I am going to love this book for its rich depth in that detail. I find it interesting that the entire second chapter is about Gone with the Wind. What Pat says about it reminds me of my own journey with that book and movie (as well as my mom's journey). I think it is interesting that he devoted an entire chapter to it, as I have been afraid that the ...more
Take a deep breath. This is a long sentence and probably the longest review I have written. If you love your mother, if you love to read to yourself and to your children and grandchildren, if you like anything else by Pat Conroy, and if you love goodreads because you can read what friends and strangers have thought about what you read and you can follow those people to see what else they have read that you might also enjoy, then you will love My Reading Life.

Here's a brief list of my reading hi
"Each day of my life begins with a poem that will unloose the avalanche of words inside me, that secret ore that, once published, will sit before me disguised as the earth's jewelry." (p 329)

I believe each reader has his own story about the books that have been important in his life. This book is Pat Conroy's story and as a writer of several successful novels and memoirs he has created a beautiful paean to those books that influenced his life and writing. And with the books his memoir includes t
Pat Conroy puts into words why GR users love books...or rather the words in books.

I am envious of the author's experiences and imagination and his talent for sharing through writing. I not only got a new list of books I want/need/must read but my enthusiasm for reading hit an all new high.

Off Topic:
I'm a great fan of The Great Santini which is based somewhat on the author's life with an abusive father. I was a little saddened at the end of My Reading LIfe when I realized he wasn't able to overc
Joan Colby
A fascinating group of anecdotes which touch at least tangentially on Conroy’s reading life. One of the best is his tribute to his remarkable English teacher Gene Norris who remained a lifelong mentor. Another is a genuflection to and assessment of Thomas Wolfe who was a seminal influence on Conroy’s writing. He makes a valid point on style in defense of Wolfe’s and his own tendency to overreach and express an excess of poetic passion—both men are word-infatuees—as opposed to the spare style of ...more
Sep 25, 2010 Andres rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: arcs
I love any book that rhapsodizes about books, and this one fits the bill. Add in Pat Conroy's verbal acrobats and unique sense of humor and you have a book that I will read again when the actual book comes out (I read an advanced reader).

Anyone who knows Conroy's terrible childhood will know how important his mother was to shaping his life, and by extension the books she (and he) cherished. He covers everything book related in his life, from his mother to teachers to booksellers, to writing his
Just started the new book My Reading Life by Pat Conroy. I have to believe, since I am Irish, I must be related to this wonderful storyteller. He speaks directly to me in this book. I will continue to read Parrot and Olivier. I will use Conroy's book as dessert at the end of the day. Keep writing Patrick. We are about the same age. My dream is to die sitting in my favorite chair reading a Pat Conroy book. I ain't ready to go yet. Hope you have many more books to write.
I was not disappointed. It
Pat talks about his history with books and authors. I enjoyed hearing stories, from an excellent story teller, about how books helped shape his life. I mostly enjoyed the stories about his early life, going into details on how he was impacted by his high school teacher. I suspect many a teacher would like to be remembered as fondly. I also enjoyed his talks about his Mom and Gone With the Wind. I listened to this on audio, read by Pat himself. He has a voice that does take a little getting used ...more
Pat Conroy “My Reading Life” …
Since beginning this book I have come to realize what is missing in American literature: words! Rich words full of empathy, sympathy, anger, love, peace and war which Conroy described this way: “words inside me and stored them wondrous as pearls. I mouthed them and fingered them and rolled them around my tongue.” Conroy simply but eloquently and with great opulence reminds us that it is words that bring sentences alive and our imaginations to percolate. This is a bo
Read it over two evenings and enjoyed learning more about Conroy's influences. He almost convinced me to read War and Peace. Florid and self-indulgent in its worst moments and breathtaking in its best. I found Conroy's descriptions of the readers he's known more interesting than the books he's read, but his descriptions of what it means to be a writer and reader are the best of all.
I loved this book....inspired me to read more,and yes, reading has been my life. I gave copies of this to friends, cause it truly inspired me,and I am in high hope it will inspire well.....
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Pat Conroy is the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) befo ...more
More about Pat Conroy...
The Prince of Tides Beach Music South of Broad The Great Santini The Lords of Discipline

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“Books are living things and their task lies in their vows of silence. You touch them as they quiver with a divine pleasure. You read them and they fall asleep to happy dreams for the next 10 years. If you do them the favor of understanding them, of taking in their portions of grief and wisdom, then they settle down in contented residence in your heart.” 60 likes
“Here is all I ask of a book- give me everything. Everything, and don't leave out a single word.” 50 likes
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